Monk walking alone in Laos

How traveling can break daily-routine, promote good habits (and change your life)

We can all agree that routines make our lives boring.
That being said, not all routines are bad: I’m and advocate of hot water with lemon every morning, and my regular 3 PM bowel movement is quite convenient. 😀

But nowadays life is way too rigid and predictable as work dictates most of our time: when to wake up, where we’re spending our day, the people we’ll be with ̶ you name it.

Graphic of routine life vs a life with new things.

Yes, a routine may be an easy way to organize life and prevent our brains from melting, but it’s also what makes us indifferent to the wife’s new haircut or to the fact that spring has arrived.

 

Deciding to Travel

It all started when we couldn’t differentiate the current year from the previous. The calendar kept moving but our lives felt stuck. Life was a tasteless soupy snoozefest and something had to change!

Thus, considering that change is usually outside of our comfort zone, traveling felt like the perfect fit. Nothing is more effective at smacking us right out of the humdrum like travel is.

 

Creatures of habits

Weirdly enough, we adapted to the new reality on the other side of the world in a flash, including having rice for breakfast, the weight of the backpack, and the tropical heat. And we managed to do it by creating routines, only this time, they were aligned with our new set of goals:

– To experience change
– To see the world
– To build courage
– To grow

More than that, they brought the realization that: routines are not the problem, lackluster goals are!

 

Nuno in Myanmar traveling to brake routines

 

Why were we waging a battle with routine?

This was the confirmation that routines can play a supportive role in our expansion and overall well-being. That’s why many successful people are a big apologist for it ̶ for being a great tool to take us to where we want to be.

How was the everyday hum back home supposed to make sense when the final goals didn’t feed our soul?

 

The importance of a seasonal reality check

When frustration starts bubbling up, stop and notice if your goals have changed. Do you still want the things you’re supposed to be striving for? Are the intentions you set 5 years ago still the same?

 

Writing about things to change in my life

 

We should analyze our lives frequently and readjust its course, especially towards long-term goals. This is how travel can serve us, as a way to unplug and:

– Create time for reflexion
– Expand our world
– To be inspired to live a better life

And not so much as an escape from problems or momentary dissatisfactions. After all, shitty situations in life usually require some confrontation and management from our side.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

Aligning with a purpose in life provides motivation, vindicates routine, keeps you present and makes a world of difference between living and merely existing. Meanwhile, if you can’t take a travel break: tweak your routines around, fuse into it good habits ̶ the ones aligned with your goals ̶  and let some of the bad ones go. Line up with what makes you happy!
Oh, and if you just came home from a trip, read this blog post about good habits:
10 Ways to keep the Travel Spirit Alive

 

Are you frustrated with daily routine? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by!

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Mario days before returning home

Returning Home after a long trip. Now what?

I remember getting all anxious and fidgety when the time to come back home got closer, I wanted to keep going at any cost. I recall thinking that a last minute visit to Malaysia was an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. After all, we were close by and the chance to visit it might not happen again. Besides, one of the biggest international airports in South East Asia is in Kuala Lumpur anyways. It’s perfect! We can catch a plane home from there.

As convenient as it may sound, I know that it was all to make the experience last for a few more days. I would’ve done anything to postpone the end.

 

Nuno in Angkor

 

Welcome home!

When we arrived, it wasn’t comforting to find things just as they were before, it was weird and surreal. I remember a heavy feeling of guilt in my stomach for not wanting to be back, and the fake smiles I had to force. An overwhelming sense of disconnection when I tried to rekindle friendships, as I found friends more interested in smartphone screens than our stories.

 

Pokemon fever.jpg

Nafir art.jpg

 

It’s funny how during our 5 months trip, I said frequently to Nuno:

– When we go back, we mustn’t become two of those travel bores that talk about traveling all the time.

Fortunately, that never happened. Sadly, because nobody cared about our trip.
It has been a difficult transition, not going to lie. People don’t seem to understand what our travel experiences meant for us: a time when we were truly happy and free.
But I get it, we were the ones that choose to leave for half a year, while they stayed here with “real responsibilities”.

 

The monks journey.jpg

 

However, it’s undeniable that our friends seem to be on different trails of life now: as we want to save money for our next trip/ they want to spend it on a new car. We want freedom/ they want to settle down. While we talk about dreams and aspirations/ they keep complaining about bills and work. It’s like we’re tuned to different frequencies nowadays.

 

So, can traveling be transformational?

Some people say traveling can change you. Personally, I don’t believe so.
The only thing traveling long-term shifted in me was my perspective (and maybe my priorities). I believe it’s not about changing as it is about growing: I’m not a different person now that I’ve returned home, I’m actually more of the person that I was before I left.

 

Nuno in Bali

 

Back to “reality”

Now that I’m back again, I find myself pressured to fit the mold, delay my happiness and follow the socioeconomic guide that says: ” Focus on career. Be successful. Make money”. The trouble is that I don’t see myself as a career man, and nothing annoys me more than the concept of success  ̶  that empty, generic New Year’s Resolution that we’re all expected to strive for.

And I’m not avoiding responsibilities, working is necessary of course, but I won’t choose a career in detriment of a life well spent. My set of ambitions don’t pass through a solid résumé, or a good retirement plan because I don’t want to save all my money for retirement, but enjoy it along the way there.

 

Old man.jpg

 

Besides, if I have the privilege to pick what to do with my life, why would I choose to spend my most physically able years locked in an office? Plus, I firmly believe that when we like our craft we can do some version of it in any part of the world, so why be geographically restricted?

One thing is for sure: we can always make more money but we can’t make more time.

 

Rice fields.jpg

 

What now?

Traveling was a super rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I know in my heart that I will travel again. In the meantime, I must prevent this happy-expanded version of myself from shrinking, so it’s fundamental that I handle my emotions in the best possible way.

 

Seedling in a temple.jpg

 

Keeping the spirits up!

So what if, instead of looking at my return as the end of a chapter in my life, I saw it as a blank slate? What if I made it a mission to figure out what really matters to me now, and start building my life around it? What positive personality traits that came out during our travels can we translate to our daily lives?

Check out the action plan that has been helping Nuno and me through this gloomy period of adaptation:

10 Ways to Keep the Travel Spirit Alive

Are you back from a trip and your life is feeling a bit stale? How have you been feeling and coping with your return? Share your thoughts, leave us a reply down here.

Nuno and Mario

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Mario playing while traveling

10 ways to keep the travel spirit alive

So you’ve returned home after a big trip, unpacked your stuff and wistfully stowed the passport in a drawer. Now what?
Now you’re probably starting to crave some endorphin-pumping adventures again. We know the feeling  ̶  you’re hooked to the excitement of the unknown.

But why is that we only feel enthusiastic about places away from home?
Well, because travel stimulates our brains and spirits the way the familiar can’t. That’s why every return home can be a tricky transition period, and why we have to manage it in the best possible way: by actively keeping our spirits up and carry on doing EPIC SHIT.

So if you’re feeling blue, here are 10 ways to get you out of that post-travel funk:

 

1. Keep the traveler mindset alive

What is that you did on your travels that you can keep doing now?
Look at things with a new set of eyes and from a different perspective. For instance: if thousands of tourists visit my hometown every year, they must do it for a reason!

Make an effort to explore your surroundings, or at least meet your friends at a different place  ̶  why should it always be in that same cafe?

 

Aveiro, Portugal

 

2. Be grateful

Be grateful for being surrounded by friends and family again, for your soft mattress and home cooked meals. Revisit your favorite places more often, and find out what is that you like about them.

Be grateful for all that your hometown has to offer, even the small conveniences you wished you had while you traveled. For instance: as huge bread lovers, we recall craving almost every day for a bakery like the ones we had back home. Now that we’re back, we can stuff our faces with white bread and gluten again!

Be grateful for the privilege of having traveled, and remember that coming back doesn’t mean that a chapter of your life has closed forever.

 

Nuno_myanmar

 

3. Take time for yourself

If you traveled long-term like we did, you remember how good it felt to take ownership of your time and self-indulge. What were the things that you enjoyed the most? Have you taken time to re-connect with yourself since you came back?
We’re not talking about binging the last season of your favorite show, we’re talking about fruitful, soul-pleasing time.

Go watch the sunset on the beach and meditate, read a new book, ride your bike around town.

If you’re into physical activity go trekking, get your heart pumping while getting in contact with nature.

 

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4. Sign up for a class

Keep the momentum going and your brain stimulated by learning a new language  ̶  one from a country you’ve been, or from a country you want to visit next. Seize the opportunity of your mind still being open and fill it in with knowledge!

Enroll in that yoga class and see how it goes.
Register for the marathon you always said you wanted to run.

 

5. Cook. Spice up your life!

Cook for your friends and family some of the exotic foods you’ve eaten abroad. Remember that being the only one who knows how the food is supposed to taste, you can pretend like you nailed it even if it ends up tasting like hot garbage. They’ll never know!

I’ve been following the recipes from a few books and this Youtube Channel: Palin’s Kitchen. The Thai green curry, the fried rice, and Kung Pao Chicken have become crowd favorites at home. Next challenge: Thai Fried Bananas.

 

 

6. Get involved in a project

Start a personal project with your travel photos, set up a travel exhibition in your town with all the memory cards and gigabytes of pics you brought back. It’s an excellent way to share your stories with your community and friends.

Last December Nuno and I did a Travel Gathering in our hometown of Aveiro. A bunch of cool people came to hear our stories, see our photos and make some questions. It ended up being a 3-hour session dedicated to Southeast Asia and Australia. Watch it here.

We’re still getting facebook messages with questions from people about to travel through some of the countries we visited. And it’s super rewarding to be able to help.

 

7. Connect with other travelers

Another awesome way to connect with folks who groove on the travel culture is to read and comment on blogs. Talk up travel with like-minded people, join facebook groups, “like” facebook pages  ̶  you probably have pretty valid inputs to share.

 

Backpackers

 

Take in Couchsurfers, show them around town. Stay in contact with people doing what you love doing, stock up on some of their travel enthusiasm and keep that fire burning.

 

8. Get a makeover

A week after I arrived, I caught myself with a similar attitude like the one I had 6 months before traveling to Southeast Asia. Something had to be done, and if my brain was starting to forget, I had to use my body as a reminder: I cut all my hair off, took my earrings out and trimmed my beard as a physical representation of change.

Now I and everyone around me is reminded that something changed in me, inside and out. So I better behave accordingly.

 

9. Goals and Resolutions

Often the arrival of a New Year isn’t a big enough motivation to establish a new set of goals for ourselves. How many times did the calendar change and our lives remain the same for that entire year? That is because a New Year doesn’t imply transformation, but a life-changing event can be at the root of it.

The moment to rethink, reprioritize and let go of what’s not resonating with you, is at pivotal moments of your life, such as: a trip around the world, a college graduation, the birth of your first child.

 

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There’s no better time to declare a new set of goals than when you got back from a trip all inspired and renewed. Now is the time to shift your goals and have them match the new expanded version of you.

 

10. Plan your next trip

Any thoughts on where to go next? Daydream with your next trip, research locations as an escape.

Start putting some money aside for it, set up a money-saving strategy  ̶  if you did it once, you’ll be able to do it again.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/planetgravy/32214622992/in/dateposted/

Do whatever suits you best to keep the adventurous spirit alive and above all, ease yourself to the inevitability of routine. Find a way to retain the optimism and enthusiasm around by keeping busy  ̶  purposefully busy  ̶  instead of biting your nails out of boredom, or stain your travel memories with sadness.

Maintain your heart open to the possibilities of change, and transmute that stagnated yearn for adventures into risk-taking or life-changing matters. Move out, change the scenery, change jobs, color your hair, get a perm, propose, lose the weight, love yourself harder! Just don’t forget who you became and that you will travel again.

 

What have you been doing to keep the travel spirit alive? We’d really like to hear it.
Share it in the comments bellow.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Nuno being a good tourist in Bali.

Travel Etiquette: Good tourists vs Bad tourists

Tourism can be of great social, cultural and economic value to everybody involved—the visitor and the visited. It all depends on the type of traveler we are, so is up to us to be socially responsible and culturally open-minded.

 

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Bad Tourists

There’s nothing worse than a petulant tourist making a scene at a 3rd world restaurant because no one speaks English and he’s a bit peckish, right?
Well, actually there is: seeing empty water bottles and soda cans scattered everywhere as you’re visiting the temples of Angkor, or the words “Jenny 2006” carved into the stone walls of a World Heritage site.

Now that we’ve brought that up, let’s get real: there are no Cambodian girls named Jenny. That’s the pet name of Jennifer—a privileged girl that probably flew to Cambodia thanks to the earned miles from her credit card, and thought it was cute to leave her mark on the other side of the world. Please, don’t be Jenny.

 

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Here’s a simple way to put it:

When you travel you’re always a guest in someone else’s home, so behave accordingly.

You may not agree with all the customs of the country you’re visiting but that’s your prerogative. Nonetheless, remain aware of where you are and if you come across a dodgy situation and feel like there’s something you need to say, do it politely. Or don’t do it at all, be safe.

We’re not asking you to compromise your values though: Nuno and I spent whole days carrying trash in our backpack when the norm was to throw it on the ground.
On our trip to Southeast Asia, we never engaged in activities involving elephants or other animals because let’s face it: even though elephants are adorable, these activities are businesses, so the proper treatment of the animals is often NOT a priority.

 

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Using the photo above as an example: we’re not Buddhists, the floor was scorching and nobody was around to make sure we weren’t wearing shoes, but we didn’t anyways. This is a sacred place to the Burmese and they always walk barefoot when visiting temples.

Let the uncomfortable situations serve you as contrast to appreciate what you have back home. We all love to yap about how we ‘travel to experience different cultures’, well the bumpy bits are part of the experience too, so learn something from them!

 

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It’s key to be respectful and ask for permission before snapping pictures of locals. Always be sensitive to the situation, respect local rituals and ceremonies by being the least invasive as possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up becoming one of those rude paparazzi-tourists we witnessed in Luang Prabang during the alms giving ceremony—revealing their lack of information and detachment from the culture they were in.

 

Good tourists travel like locals

A good practice for all of us travelers is to do some research on the customs and traditions before visiting any given place. By educating ourselves on the social reality of a country, we’re providing insight into our minds and empathy to our hearts.

 

ritualBali.jpg

 

Don’t be rude when people don’t understand English. In fact, you shouldn’t expect them to.
Learn some basic words in their language even if just “Hello” or “Thank you”—it’s a sign of consideration. Smile and use those interactions to learn some new vocabulary!

 

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Keep in mind that you’re the one traveling and probably having the time of your life, but locals are going about their daily routine—same day, VERY different perspectives.

Be a conscious consumer and buy locally made products to support local communities. Go eat at local restaurants, taste new flavors and enjoy the country’s cuisine. Eat the fruits locals eat, drink coffee the way they drink it and avoid sugar-filled plastic packaged crap when you fill like snacking.

 

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chatuchak

 

When choosing an accommodation, stay in locally owned guesthouses instead of international hotel franchises, and remember that buying locally will always cost you less!

 

Lunchtime for Hoodies

 

You don’t need to wear a hijab as soon as you arrive at a Muslim country because is common for local women to do so. Just be mindful and dress appropriately to not be walking around a Buddhist conservative country with a bedazzled bikini top and cut-off shorts because ‘it’s like, really hot outside you guys’.
That’s something Jenny would do.

Remember: don’t be Jenny.
Be polite, positive and eco-conscious.

Do you have other examples of good tourists and bad tourists?
Leave them in the comments below! 

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Introvert man alone staring at the Marble Temple in Bangkok

Travelling as an Introvert: Fostering My Personal Space For a Deeper Connection to the World

I’ve been wondering how has introversion hindered me from meeting people that could’ve had enriched my travel experience. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons I wanted to travel anyways? Should I’ve been more outgoing? Shouldn’t I have gotten home with prospect opportunities, tons of new emails and recollections of people I met on the road?

 

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Let me contextualize

I’ve just finished the trip of a lifetime and now after 5 months, I’m back home.
I never was a person of many friends, I’m a loner and an introvert that enjoys planning parties more than attending them. Aloneness to me is freedom—aloneness, not isolation though.

When traveling there’s a natural inclination to gravitate to other travelers: we’re all in a foreign place with great stories to tell and valid opinions to share. Family and friends are back home and there’s a guy at your hostel with a similar adventurer spirit. Common ground, easy! So after 5 minutes of small talk, he wants to know what are you doing tomorrow, asks if he can join you and you say: “Sure.”

Well, a month had gone by into my trip when I lost the patience to hear rowdy backpacker’s stories about where they’ve been or where they were planning to go next. Honestly, I never cared about how many beers were drunk the night before, or their bias opinions about X country —mainly because they always tended to come up at the entrance of the epic monuments I always wanted to visit.

 

Praying

 

I just felt that the place I was deserved my full attention. After all, I spent years waiting for the opportunity to be there.

 

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So I started to withdraw from people

Bearing in mind that we all have limited time to get to know a place when we’re on the road, I realized that I rather do it by myself without the distractions of casual chitchat, or the awkward moments of silence because it was my turn to say something back. I love silence, and I always preferred contemplation over a conversation.

 

floating market

 

The internal struggle

The thing is that I also envy the stories of travelers meeting someone that radically changed their travel plans, turned into a job opportunity overseas, or ended up as a lifelong friendship. The stories about being approached by a monk and talking for hours about life and god, or the ones about how fun it was bargaining at the market.

Why hasn’t that happened to me? Am I that disconnected or is it my body language? Where is this frustration coming from anyways? I hate bargaining, it makes me cringe—I rather use coupons, it’s more refined.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/planetgravy/28339741434/in/dateposted-public/

As an introvert, I wanted this trip to push me out of my comfort zone, to teach me about the world, and how I fit in it. So I came to understand that solitude it’s like my charging station and I need it daily, especially when I’m in a stimulating environment on the other side of the world.

Maybe I didn’t open myself more because I was never alone to begin with. I traveled with Nuno and we have a dynamic that works. We know each other and we tend to wander by ourselves for hours, only talking about it at the end of the day or during dinner.

 

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I know I’m missing out on getting to know other travelers with which I could share tips and tricks on the best guesthouses, food stalls or transportation. And locals that could teach me more about their culture and cool unknown places to visit. But I don’t open myself easily.

Frankly, visiting most of the places on my own allowed me to be fully present in them. I could orient my focus to what spoke to me: I was aware of details, colors, lights, and smells. I now remember details perfectly and I do so because my mind wasn’t divided between where I was, and small talk with a new acquaintance. Isn’t that a sign of a fulfilled experience?

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/planetgravy/28339748944/in/dateposted-public/

Now that I’m back home I’d like to take everybody I know to the places I’ve been. I want to share the food with my family, take my close friends to the most amazing viewpoints and swim with everybody in warm tropical waters.
Maybe I never felt the need to make new friends because I have good ones back home. Maybe I unconsciously realized that the opportunity I sought after was to do everything a second time with them by my side.
Then again, I don’t have that many friends anyway, so it would be quite a private excursion.

“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius”
– Edward Gibbon

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Nuno and Mario seated in lotus position. One month of traveling

The first month of traveling

So one month has passed and we’re currently in Vietnam writing our first thoughts about a whole month of travel.
We’ve been able to visit a bunch of different cities and countries which means: being constantly stimulated by everything those new places have to offer. Plus, the daunting notion of everything we planned to do in this trip, keeps burning in the back of our minds.

Long-term traveling requires a different mindset than the one we’re used to.

Unintentionally, we got caught in a rhythm like we were trying to fit everything on a 10-day vacation. Every day was filled 100% with as many activities as possible and all that was doing was stealing our presence and making us neglect our bodies. Not to mention that it was completely unfair to the places we were visiting. We needed to slow down.

 

Let us illustrate what might happen if you don’t slow down:

When you’re feeling physically exhausted but decide to keep going anyways for two more hours before having a rest, is when that new local market you’re in seems like every other you’ve seen so far.

 

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When you decide to cram every Angkor temple in the same day even though there’s like 40ºC in the sun and you’re doing it by bicycle, is when you get ‘templed out’, dehydrated and over it.

 

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When you decide to check those 20 iconic sites before breakfast, the fun experience of trying a new dish at that quirky local restaurant with not an English word in the menu is replaced by a BigMac at the first McDonalds you find “because you’re starting to feel woozy from the low blood sugar”.

 

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When you’re drained, that characteristic street from Asia filled with thousands of motorbikes, honking cars, and busy locals will just annoy you and make you want to run to your hotel room. And when you get there, the irrelevant slow Wi-Fi connection can make you GO BONKERS!

 

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The most obvious piece of advice you’ll ever hear

It’s important to know your body and your limits to begin with. No matter what part of the world you are, you’ll still need plenty of water, good food, and rest. BOOM. You’re welcome.

 

On another note

This whole experience has been quite positive and quite doable.
Crossing borders, new people, the amazing sunsets and white sand beaches, the swollen lips from too much chili, the days that blend together and feel like a giant Saturday, the unmeasurable freedom

We’re learning to relax more and enjoy each place we’re in. We’ve started to slow down, creating time to appreciate where we are and to be grateful for the privilege to be there.

 

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

 

The time we have in our hands actually allows for less structured days and the outcome is openness. Openness to change plans and make new ones as we go. To appreciate little things like the vibrancy of the flowers, the sweetness of the fruit and the smiles of locals passing by. Not only the breathtaking postcard-worthy scenery. It even grants the distance to look at the lives we have back home. Perspective.

 

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We’re waking up feeling less tired and more inspired.
Long-term traveling is good and we definitely want more of it.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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